A few years ago my mother-in-law came round just as my husband and I were finishing up making our Christmas puddings. They were rattling away in their pans and the sound of it took her straight back to when she was a young girl and her father would do theirs just the same way. As ever, I was over the moon that doing something so simple was linking together generations and stirring memories not thought of for years.
There is definitely more to steamed puds than just Christmas, though. The same techniques are used to make the old-school steamed pudding classics such as treacle, ginger or apple puddings; spotted dick (no giggling at the back); or any of the others with similarly brilliant but slightly bonkers names.
How about Sussex Pond, which has a whole lemon in its centre and was part of Heston B’s inspiration for the famous whole-orange Christmas pudding that caused so many elbows to be sharpened over eBay. Canary Pudding is another lemmony treat but this time without the suet – which gives a lighter taste and you’re less likely to need to go down a notch on your belt when it is time for seconds. Or there’s Black Cap, so called because of the currants that go into the base of the pudding which become a lovely fruity goo over its peak when it is turned out.
My personal name favourite is Cabinet Pudding. Sometimes known as Chancellor Pudding. Its core ingredients are sponge cake, dried fruits, and a hefty old slug of rum. I haven’t yet found a conclusive source for why this pudding comes to have such a political affiliation, so I’m going with the idea that at some point the senior figures in the government of the day were wrestling with a particularly thorny problem, and decided that the only way to get through it would be if tucked into a sticky pud.
My mum told me recently that her grandmother used to use a stocking. She had twelve children so through the length of the stocking would be all different kinds of pudding – treacle, spotted dick, jam. It would be steamed and then be sliced to ensure everyone got their favourite. That might be one way to stop sibling squabbles but is possibly not the best use of your 7-denier seams.